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Ideas for encouraging interest in ballet?


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I recently was chatting with the development staff at our ballet company. They were discussing ideas for growing future audiences and one involved creating kind of a "club" for 8 - 13 year olds who are not ballet students but have an interest in the arts. They would pay a fee (the fund raising part) and in return would participate in 4-6 ballet related events specifically designed for them. Events like watching a Sugar Plum Fairy rehearsal, seeing how a tutu was made etc. I pointed out that all the ideas they mentioned were girl oriented and asked if they wanted to include young men in this club. Of course they did not mean to exclude boys, but in their inital eagerness to dream up things to do the most obvious ones had to do with the pink/tutu/tiara aspects of ballet. Some boys might also be interesting in learning about making tutus but many boys would never be able to admit to that or perhaps not even know that. We began talking about events that might encourage young boys to partciapte. One obvious idea was to include the Cavalier in the rehearsal. But at that point we had to go our separate ways.


The person who was working on this concept said she was going to bring me in to continue the discussion, because as a mother of young male ballet dancers, I could help to provide that other viewpoint. I am not sure about that since my boys are probably not "typical" since they are already on an alternate path. But, seeing the thread "Doing My Part" reminded me I could turn to this forum and see what kind of ideas others might have.


Even if this program never gets going, I thought it might be an interesting topic to talk about. What kind of event do you think might be of interest to a young boy? The goal is not to make them dancers (although that would be great) but help them expand their ideas of what men can do.

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Here's a couple of easy ones, Rat King and the sword fight from R&J. Every boy coming up with my ds wanted not to be the prince but to be the Rat King! The sword fight from Romeo and Juliet was one of the recital pieces for boys class. One of the regular guys that came for partnering was a welder and metalsmith and he made all the boys swords. Oh my you would have thought they had all died and gone to heaven. Not one of them missed a rehearsal.


Watching partnering class or higher level boys class might also be good depending on how many guys you have.

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Of course! The sword fights are a great idea!!


I think watching an upper levels mens class would also be good particularly because we have some very good male teachers who could put the young men through their paces. Perhaps it could be a shortened version of class. The girls in the meantime could watch a pointe class. Then the two could come together for a little partnering.

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And for technical work, how about seeing how to make it snow onstage, or generate ground fog, or even set off explosives?! And a men's class for non-dancing beginners is a good idea. And partnering is great! I remember dancing with a girl, then complaining to her mother that I hadn't done a particularly good job of partnering, because her costume was in the way. I said to Mrs. Ruscelli, "Here I am, feeling all around in there for her hips...." Then my teacher's husband said to my mother, "If I had known that as a fourteen-year-old I could talk to a girl's mother like that, and she'd be nodding sympathetically, I'd have got into THIS business instead of joining the Army!" :shrug:

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I'm a parent of 2 wanna be dancing boys. DD used to "cast" them in her livingroom performances and eventually thier patience and interest waned. Then we saw Giselle. DS says "I want to jump as high as Micheal!" Other DS says "I want to spin superfast." Now it's just coming up with the bucks for two more dancers. EEK! :)

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Good! Maybe you can work out a "package deal" since there will be three kids instead of just one. :) At least for the first year, the boys won't be taking every day, I don't think.

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Can I join the kids' club? At our local company -- the Joffrey -- you have to be a Major Donor and ante up big bucks before you get invited to a studio rehearsal!


This sounds like a great idea, and good for you for steering them towards boy-friendly activities. In fact, they may draw in more girls as well: the ones who aren't particularly taken with pink tutus and fairy dust, but who like a good sword fight and fake snow as much as the next guy! In this way, they can build a new audience of ballet appreciators, not just cater to the wannabee dancers.

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Too bad there isn't a Joffrey School in Chicago! At the NY school, when time came for a "Petrouchka" or a "Beau Danube" or finally Nutz, the whole place sort of got involved. Moms and dads and brothers ended up in the crowd scenes in "Petrouchka"!

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Guest justthedriver

I like the idea of introductory class for non-dancers. It's required at my son's middle school, so that everyone has to take a quarter's worth of intro to dance. I've always thought that another way to go is to encourage cross-polination between the dance department (or local school?) and the school's athletic program, even if it's just P.E. Every kind of athlete can improve with ballet, and making a guest artist/teacher part of the standard sports curriculum might be a start towards getting some boys who might be lurking, insofar as interest in studying dance, off that fence and into the studio.

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